The Washington Times - October 28, 2008, 05:10PM

Loyal readers will know that the fall-season D1scourse 30 is more an exercise in analysis than anything else.

That is to say, that set of rankings ultimately means nothing, other than to point out the lunacy of, say, ranking two-loss Michigan State over two-loss California despite a head-to-head result suggesting that isn’t the correct order.

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But basketball is a bit different.

One, because people don’t obsess over rankings quite as much.

Two, because I have an AP vote.

Those who know me will not be surprised to learn I keep a top 45 each week, the better to keep track of teams I either think are curious or could be considered worth a vote within the next few weeks. Once late December hits, it takes an extraordinary week for a team to jump from not even on a 45-team radar to the rankings.

It’s a way to stay on top of things, and the first thing I do once I fire up my laptop during basketball season is scan every Division I score and note in particular how the top 45 fared.

Anyway, the AP required its ballots to be submitted earlier this week. And while the full poll won’t be out for a few days, well, I just wanted to toss out my rankings as a source of discussion during Maryland’s psuedo-bye week.

These, of course, are preseason rankings. Like just about everyone under the sun, I think North Carolina is the country’s top team right now. Unlike a lot of people, I can see someone else (my guess: Louisville) actually collecting the national title hardware.

But that’s a long ways off – more than five months, actually. So before things get started, here’s a top 45 to get a discussion going:

1. North Carolina (36-3 in 2007-08)
2. Louisville (27-9)
3. Connecticut (24-9)
4. Pittsburgh (27-10)
5. UCLA (35-4)
6. Texas (31-7)
7. Michigan State (27-9)
8. Tennessee (31-5)
9. Duke (28-6)
10. Memphis (38-2)
11. Gonzaga (25-8)
12. Notre Dame (25-8)
13. Purdue (25-9)
14. Oklahoma (23-12)
15. Miami (23-11)
16. Wisconsin (31-5)
17. Arizona State (21-13)
18. Kansas (37-3)
19. UNLV (27-8)
20. Florida (24-12)
21. Villanova (22-13)
22. Davidson (29-7)
23. Georgetown (28-6)
24. St. Mary’s (25-7)
25. San Diego (22-14)
26. Syracuse (21-14)
27. Baylor (21-11)
28. Wake Forest (17-13)
29. Marquette (25-10)
30. Southern California (21-12)
31. Xavier (30-7)
32. Kentucky (18-13)
33. Siena (23-11)
34. Ohio State (24-13)
35. Brigham Young (27-8)
36. Clemson (24-10)
37. Virginia Tech (21-14)
38. Mississippi (24-11)
39. Creighton (22-11)
40. UAB (23-11)
41. Arizona (19-15)
42. West Virginia (26-11)
43. Saint Joseph’s (21-13)
44. Vanderbilt (26-8)
45. Temple (21-13)

Patrick Stevens